During the final concert of their final tour, KISS premiered their new digital avatars, which will be used for a new era of shows.
As Kiss walked off the stage at Madison Square Garden, each of the four band members was replaced by a suite of flying, fire-breathing avatars of their younger personas. The digital avatars towered on screens above the crowd and performed a rendition of God Gave Rock’n’Roll to You II.
The show was designed by George Lucas’s special effects company Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) and financed by Swedish conglomerate Pophouse Entertainment. ILM’s previous work includes credits on movies and franchises such as Star Wars, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and episodic series such as The Mandalorian.
The two companies previously collaborated on Abba Voyage – a popular, lucrative virtual show in a custom-built London stadium that also utilizes digital avatars.
Rather than creating avatars that can give a similar performance to the real band, however, the digital avatars performed as fantasy-based superheroes, including a winged bassist and co-founder Gene Simmons breathed fire and hovered above the stage.
According to Pophouse Entertainment, this is just “one of the many and varied ways in which Kiss will live on as digital performers through their avatars in the future.”
“This is the sneak peek as the band [Kiss] crosses over from the physical world to the digital,” stated Grady Cofer, visual effects supervisor at ILM.
The effects combined lasers, LED projects, heavy metal smoke, and pyrotechnics. The avatars can even be tweaked in real-time to simulate interactions between the band and the audience. As far as what the new show could look like, however, plans are still in the works.
“We’re going to figure it out after the tour,” Pophouse CEO Per Sundin said. “Is it a Kiss concert in the future? Is it a rock opera? Is it a musical? A story, an adventure? These four individuals already have superpowers. We want to be as open as possible.”
The current band lineup appeared in a promotional video which was released hours after the show. The video featured behind-the-scenes footage of the motion-capture technology used to create the digital avatars.
“People say, ‘Well what are you going to do when you stop?’” Stanley said in the video. “Well, the band will never stop because we don’t own the band. The fans own the band, the world owns the band.”
“We can live on eternally,” lead vocalist Paul Stanley said in the video detailing the band’s transition. “The band deserves to live on because the band is bigger than we are.”